安徒生童话故事:安妮·莉斯贝

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所属分类:民间故事

安妮·莉斯贝像牛奶和血,又年轻,又快乐,样子真是可爱。她的牙齿白得放光,她的眼睛非常明亮,她的脚跳起舞来非常轻松,而她的性情也很轻松。这一切会结出怎样的果子呢?……“一个讨厌的孩子!……”的确,孩子一点也不好看,因此他被送到一个挖沟工人的老婆家里去抚养。

安妮·莉斯贝本人则搬进一位伯爵的公馆里去住。她穿着丝绸和天鹅绒做的衣服,坐在华贵的房间里,一丝儿风也不能吹到她身上,谁也不能对她说一句不客气的话,因为这会使她难过,而难过是她所受不了的。她抚养伯爵的孩子。这孩子清秀得像一个王子,美丽得像一个安琪儿。她是多么爱这孩子啊!

至于她自己的孩子呢,是的,他是在家里,在那个挖沟工人的家里。在这家里,锅开的时候少,嘴开的时候多。此外,家里常常没有人。孩子哭起来。不过,既然没有人听到他哭,因此也就没有人为他难过。他哭得慢慢地睡着了。在睡梦中,他既不觉得饿,也不觉得渴。睡眠是一种多么好的发明啊!

许多年过去了。是的,正如俗话说的,时间一久,野草也就长起来了。安妮·莉斯贝的孩子也长大了。大家都说他发育不全,但是他现在已经完全成为他所寄住的这一家的成员。这一家得到了一笔抚养他的钱,安妮·莉斯贝也就算从此把他脱手了。她自己成了一个都市妇人,住得非常舒服;当她出门的时候,她还戴一顶帽子呢。但是她却从来不到那个挖沟工人家里去,因为那儿离城太远。事实上,她去也没有什么事情可做。孩子是别人的;而且他们说,孩子现在自己可以找饭吃了。他应该找个职业来糊口,因此他就为马兹·演生看一头红毛母牛。他已经可以牧牛,做点有用的事情了。

在一个贵族公馆的洗衣池旁边,有一只看家狗坐在狗屋顶上晒太阳。随便什么人走过去,它都要叫几声。如果天下雨,它就钻进它的屋子里去,在干燥和舒服的地上睡觉。安妮·莉斯贝的孩子坐在沟沿上一面晒太阳,一面削着拴牛的木桩子。在春天他看见三棵草莓开花了;他唯一高兴的想头是:这些花将会结出果子,可是果子却没有结出来。他坐在风雨之中,全身给淋得透湿,后来强劲的风又把他的衣服吹干。当他回到家里来的时候,一些男人和女人不是推他,就是拉他,因为他丑得出奇。谁也不爱他——他已经习惯了这类事情了!

安妮·莉斯贝的孩子怎样活下去呢?他怎么能活下去呢?

他的命运是:谁也不爱他。

他从陆地上被推到船上去。他乘着一条破烂的船去航海。当船老板在喝酒的时候,他就坐着掌舵。他是既寒冷,又饥饿。人们可能以为他从来没有吃过饱饭呢。事实上也是如此。

这正是晚秋的天气:寒冷,多风,多雨。冷风甚至能透进最厚的衣服——特别是在海上。这条破烂的船正在海上航行;船上只有两个人——事实上也可以说只有一个半人:船老板和他的助手。整天都是阴沉沉的,现在变得更黑了。天气是刺人的寒冷。船老板喝了一德兰的酒,可以把他的身体温暖一下。酒瓶是很旧的,酒杯更是如此——它的上半部分是完整的,但它的下半部分已经碎了,因此现在是搁在一块上了漆的蓝色木座子上。船老板说:“一德兰的酒使我感到舒服,两德兰使我感到更愉快。”这孩子坐在舵旁,用他一双油污的手紧紧地握着舵。他是丑陋的,他的头发挺直,他的样子衰老,显得发育不全。他是一个劳动人家的孩子——虽然在教堂的出生登记簿上他是安妮·莉斯贝的儿子。

风吹着船,船破着浪!船帆鼓满了风,船在向前挺进。前后左右,上上下下,都是暴风雨;但是更糟糕的事情还待到来。停住!什么?什么裂开了?什么碰到了船?船在急转!难道这是龙吸水吗?难道海在沸腾吗?坐在舵旁的这个孩子高声地喊:“上帝啊,救我吧!”船触到了海底上的一个巨大的石礁,接着它就像池塘里的一只破鞋似的沉到水下面去了——正如俗话所说的,“连人带耗子都沉下去了。”是的,船上有的是耗子,不过人只有一个半:船主人和这个挖沟人的孩子。

只有尖叫的海鸥看到了这情景;此外还有下面的一些鱼,不过它们也没有看清楚,因为当水涌进船里和船在下沉时候,它们已经吓得跑开了。船沉到水底将近有一尺深,于是他们两个人就完了。他们死了,也被遗忘了!只有那个安在蓝色木座子上的酒杯没有沉,因为木座子把它托起来了。它顺水漂流,随时可以撞碎,漂到岸上去。但是漂到哪边的岸上去呢?什么时候呢?是的,这并没有什么了不起的重要!它已经完成了它的任务,它已经被人爱过——但是安妮·莉斯贝的孩子却没有被人爱过!然而在天国里,任何灵魂都不能说:“没有被人爱!”

安妮·莉斯贝住在城市里已经有许多年了。人们把她称为“太太”。当她谈起旧时的记忆,谈起跟伯爵在一起的时候,她特别感到骄傲。那时她坐在马车里,可以跟伯爵夫人和男爵夫人交谈。她那位甜蜜的小伯爵是上帝的最美丽的安琪儿,是一个最亲爱的人物。他喜欢她,她也喜欢他。他们彼此吻着,彼此拥抱着。他是她的幸福,她的半个生命。现在他已经长得很高大了。他14岁了,有学问,有好看的外表。自从她把他抱在怀里的那个时候起,她已经有很久没有看见过他了。她已经有好多年没有到伯爵的公馆里去了,因为到那儿去的旅程的确不简单。

“我一定要设法去一趟!”安妮·莉斯贝说。“我要去看看我的宝贝,我的亲爱的小伯爵。是的,他一定也很想看到我的;他一定也很想念我,爱我,像他从前用他安琪儿的手臂搂着我的脖子时一样。那时他总是喊:‘安·莉斯!’那声音简直像提琴!我一定要想办法再去看他一次。”

她坐着一辆牛车走了一阵子,然后又步行了一阵子,最后她来到了伯爵的公馆。公馆像从前一样,仍然是很庄严和华丽的;它外面的花园也是像从前一样。不过屋子里面的人却完全是陌生的。谁也不认识安妮·莉斯贝。他们不知道她有什么了不起的事情要到这儿来。当然,伯爵夫人会告诉他们的,她亲爱的孩子也会告诉他们的。她是多么想念他们啊!

安妮·莉斯贝在等着。她等了很久,而且时间似乎越等越长!她在主人用饭以前被喊进去了。主人跟她很客气地应酬了几句。至于她的亲爱的孩子,她只有吃完了饭以后才能见到——那时她将会再一次被喊进去。

他长得多么大,多么高,多么瘦啊!但是他仍然有美丽的眼睛和安琪儿般的嘴!他望着她,但是一句话也不讲。显然他不认识她,他掉转身,想要走开,但是她捧住他的手,把它贴到自己的嘴上。

“好吧,这已经够了!”他说。接着他就从房间里走开了——他是她心中念念不忘的人;是她最爱的人;是她在人世间一提起就感到骄傲的人。

安妮·莉斯贝走出了这个公馆,来到广阔的大路上。她感到非常伤心。他对她是那么冷漠,一点也不想她,连一句感谢的话也不说。曾经有个时候,她日夜都抱着他——她现在在梦里还抱着他。

一只大黑乌鸦飞下来,落在她面前的路上,不停地发出尖锐的叫声。

“哎呀!”她说,“你是一只多么不吉利的鸟儿啊!”

她在那个挖沟工人的茅屋旁边走过。茅屋的女主人正站在门口。她们交谈起来。

“你真是一个有福气的样子!”挖沟工人的老婆说。“你长得又肥又胖,是一副发财相!”

“还不坏!”安妮·莉斯贝说。

“船带着他们一起沉了!”挖沟工人的老婆说。“船老板和助手都淹死了。一切都完了。我起初还以为这孩子将来会赚几块钱,补贴我的家用。安妮·莉斯贝,他再也不会要你费钱了。”

“他们淹死了?”安妮·莉斯贝问。她们没有再在这个问题上谈下去。

安妮·莉斯贝感到非常难过,因为她的小伯爵不喜欢和她讲话。她曾经是那样爱他,现在她还特别走这么远的路来看他——这段旅程也费钱呀,虽然她并没有从它那得到什么愉快。不过关于这事她一个字也不提,因为把这事讲给挖沟工人的老婆听也不会使她的心情好转。这只会引起后者猜疑她在伯爵家里不受欢迎。这时那只黑乌鸦又在她头上尖叫了几声。

“这个黑鬼,”安妮·莉斯贝说,“它今天使我害怕起来!”

她带来了一点咖啡豆和菊苣①。她觉得这对于挖沟工人的老婆说来是一件施舍,可以使她煮一杯咖啡喝;同时她自己也可以喝一杯。挖沟工人的老妻子煮咖啡去了;这时,安妮·莉斯贝就坐在椅子上睡着了。她做了一个从来没有做过的梦。说来也很奇怪,她梦见了自己的孩子:他在这个工人的茅屋里饿得哭叫,谁也不管他;现在他躺在海底——只有上帝知道他在什么地方,她梦见自己坐在这茅屋里,挖沟工人的老婆在煮咖啡,她可以闻到咖啡豆的香味,这时门口出现了一个可爱的人形——这人形跟那位小伯爵一样好看。他说:“世界快要灭亡了!紧跟着我来吧,因为你是我的妈妈呀!你有一个安琪儿在天国里呀!紧跟着我来吧。”

他伸出手来拉她,不过这时有一个可怕的爆裂声响起来了。这无疑是世界在爆裂,这时安琪儿升上来,紧紧地抓住她的衬衫袖子;她似乎觉得自己从地上被托起来了。不过她的脚上似乎系着一件沉重的东西,把她向下拖,好像有几百个女人在紧抓住她说:

“假使你要得救,我们也要得救!抓紧!抓紧!”

她们都一起抓着她;她们的人数真多。“嘶!嘶!”她的衬衫袖子被撕碎了,安妮·莉斯贝在恐怖中跌落下来了,同时也醒了。的确,她几乎跟她坐着的那张椅子一齐倒下来,她吓得头脑发晕,她甚至记不清楚自己梦见了什么东西。不过她知道那是一个恶梦。

她们一起喝咖啡,聊聊天。然后她就走到附近的一个镇上去,因为她要到那儿去找到那个赶车的人,以便在天黑以前能够回到家里去。不过当她碰到这个赶车人的时候,他说他们要等到第二天天黑以前才能动身,她开始考虑住下来的费用,同时也把里程考虑了一下。她想,如果沿着海岸走,可以比坐车子少走八九里路。这时天气晴朗,月亮正圆,因此安妮·莉斯贝决计步行;她第二天就可以回到家里了。

太阳已经下沉;暮钟仍然在敲着。不过,这不是钟声,而是贝得尔·奥克斯的青蛙在沼泽地里的叫声②。现在它们静下来了,四周是一片沉寂,连一声鸟叫也没有,因为它们都睡着了,甚至猫头鹰都不见了。树林里和她正在走着的海岸上一点声音也没有。她听到自己在沙上走着的脚步声。海上也没有浪花在冲击;遥远的深水里也是鸦雀无声。水底有生命和无生命的东西,都是默默地没有声响。

安妮·莉斯贝只顾向前走,像俗话所说的,什么也不想。不过思想并没有离开她,因为思想是永远不会离开我们的。它只不过是在睡觉罢了。那些活跃着、但现在正在休息着的思想,和那些还没有被掀动起来的思想,都是这个样子。不过思想会冒出头来,有时在心里活动,有时在我们的脑袋里活动,或者从上面向我们袭来。

“善有善报,”书上这样写着。“罪过里藏着死机!”书上也这样写着。书上写着的东西不少,讲过的东西也不少,但是人们却不知道,也想不起。安妮·莉斯贝就是这个样子。不过有时人们心里会露出一线光明——这完全是可能的!

一切罪恶和一切美德都藏在我们的心里——藏在你的心里和我的心里!它们像看不见的小种子似的藏着。一丝太阳从外面射进来,一只罪恶的手摸触一下,你在街角向左边拐或向右边拐——是的,这就够决定问题了。于是这颗小小的种子就活跃起来,开始胀大和冒出新芽。它把它的汁液散布到你的血管里去,这样你的行动就开始受到影响。一个人在迷糊地走着路的时候,是不会感觉到那种使人苦恼的思想的,但是这种思想却在心里酝酿。安妮·莉斯贝就是这样半睡似的走着路,但是她的思想正要开始活动。

从头年的圣烛节③到第二年的圣烛节,心里记载着的事情可是不少——一年所发生的事情,有许多已经被忘记了,比如对上帝、对我们的邻居和对我们自己的良心,在言语上和思想上所作过的罪恶行为。我们想不到这些事情,安妮·莉斯贝也没有想到这些事情。她知道,她并没有做出任何不良的事情来破坏这国家的法律,她是一个善良、诚实和被人看得起的人,她自己知道这一点。

现在她沿着海边走。那里有一件什么东西呢?她停下来。那是一件什么东西漂上来了呢?那是一顶男子的旧帽子。它是从什么地方漂来的呢?她走过去,停下来仔细看了一眼。哎呀!这是一件什么东西呢?她害怕起来。但是这并不值得害怕:这不过是些海草和灯芯草罢了,它缠在一块长长的石头上,样子像一个人的身躯。这只是些灯芯草和海草,但是她却害怕起来。她继续向前走,心中想起儿时所听到的更多的迷信故事:“海鬼”——漂到荒凉的海滩上没有人埋葬的尸体。尸体本身是不伤害任何人的,不过它的魂魄——“海鬼”——会追着孤独的旅人,紧抓着他,要求他把它送进教堂,埋在基督徒的墓地里。

“抓紧!抓紧!”有一个声音这样喊。当安妮·莉斯贝想起这几句话的时候,她做过的梦马上又生动地回到记忆中来了——那些母亲们怎样抓着她,喊着:“抓紧!抓紧!”她脚底下的地面怎样向下沉,她的衣袖怎样被撕碎,在这最后审判的时候,她的孩子怎样托着她,她又怎样从孩子的手中掉下来。她的孩子,她自己亲生的孩子,她从来没有爱过他,也从来没有想过他。这个孩子现在正躺在海底。他永远也不会像一个海鬼似的爬起来,叫着:“抓紧!抓紧!把我送到基督徒的墓地上去呀!”当她想着这事情的时候,恐惧刺激着她的脚,使她加快了步子。

恐怖像一只冰冷潮湿的手,按在她的心上;她几乎要昏过去了。当她朝海上望的时候,海上正慢慢地变得昏暗。一层浓雾从海上升起来,弥漫到灌木林和树上,形成各种各样的奇形怪状。她掉转身向背后的月亮望了一眼。月亮像一面没有光辉的、淡白色的圆镜。她的四肢似乎被某种沉重的东西压住了:抓紧!抓紧!她这样想。当她再掉转身看看月亮的时候,似乎觉得月亮的白面孔就贴着她的身子,而浓雾就像一件尸衣似的披在她的肩上。“抓紧!把我送到基督徒的墓地里去吧!”她听到这样一个空洞的声音。这不是沼泽地上的青蛙,或大渡乌和乌鸦发出来的,因为她并没有看到这些东西。“把我埋葬掉吧,把我埋葬掉吧!”这声音说。

是的,这是“海鬼”——躺在海底的她的孩子的魂魄。这魂魄是不会安息的,除非有人把它送到教堂的墓地里去,除非有人在基督教的土地上为它砌一个坟墓。她得向那儿走去,她得到那儿去挖一个坟墓。她朝教堂的那个方向走去,于是她就觉得她的负担轻了许多——甚至变得没有了。这时她又打算掉转身,沿着那条最短的路走回家去,立刻那个担子又压到她身上来了:抓紧!抓紧!这好像青蛙的叫声,又好像鸟儿的哀鸣,她听得非常清楚。“为我挖一个坟墓吧!为我挖一个坟墓吧!”

雾是又冷又潮湿;她的手和面孔也是由于恐怖而变得又冷又潮湿。周围的压力向她压过来,但是她心里的思想却在无限地膨胀。这是她从来没有经验过的一种感觉。

在北国,山毛榉可以在一个春天的晚上就冒出芽,第二天一见到太阳就现出它幸福的春青美。同样,在我们的心里,藏在我们过去生活中的罪恶种子,也会在一瞬间通过思想、言语和行动冒出芽来。当良心一觉醒的时候,这种子只需一瞬间的工夫就会长大和发育。这是上帝在我们最想不到的时刻使它起这样的变化的。什么辩解都不需要了,因为事实摆在面前,作为见证。思想变成了语言,而语言是在世界什么地方都可以听见的。我们一想到我们身中藏着的东西,一想到我们还没有能消灭我们在无意和骄傲中种下的种子,我们就不禁要恐怖起来。心中可以藏着一切美德,也可以藏着罪恶。

它们甚至在最贫瘠的土地上也可以繁殖起来。

安妮·莉斯贝的心里深深地体会到我们刚才所讲的这些话。她感到极度地不安,她倒到地上,只能向前爬几步。一个声音说:“请埋葬我吧!请埋葬我吧!”只要能在坟墓里把一切都忘记,她倒很想把自己埋葬掉。这是她充满恐惧和惊惶的、醒觉的时刻。迷信使她的血一会儿变冷,一会儿变热。有许多她不愿意讲的事情,现在都集中到她的心里来了。

一个她从前听人讲过的幻象,像明朗的月光下面的云彩,静寂地在她面前出现:四匹嘶鸣的马儿在她身边驰过去了。它们的眼睛里和鼻孔里射出火花,拉着一辆火红的车子,里面坐着一个在这地区横行了一百多年的坏人。据说他每天半夜要跑进自己的家里去一次,然后再跑出来。他的外貌并不像一般人所描述的死人那样,惨白得毫无血色,而是像熄灭了的炭一样漆黑。他对安妮·莉斯贝点点头,招招手:

“抓紧!抓紧!你可以在伯爵的车子上再坐一次,把你的孩子忘掉!”

她急忙避开,走进教堂的墓地里去。但是黑十字架和大渡鸦在她的眼前混作一团。大渡鸦在叫——像她白天所看到的那样叫。不过现在她懂得它们所叫的是什么东西。它们说:“我是大渡鸦妈妈!我是大渡鸦妈妈!”每一只都这样说。安妮·莉斯贝知道,她也会变成这样的一只黑鸟。如果她不挖出一个坟墓来,她将永远也要像它们那样叫。

她伏到地上,用手在坚硬的土上挖一个坟墓,她的手指流出血来。

“把我埋葬掉吧!把我埋葬掉吧!”这声音在喊。她害怕在她的工作没有做完以前鸡会叫起来,东方会放出彩霞,因为如果这样,她就没有希望了。

鸡终于叫了,东方也现出亮光。她还要挖的坟墓只完成了一半。一只冰冷的手从她的头上和脸上一直摸到她的心窝。

“只挖出半个坟墓!”一个声音哀叹着,接着就渐渐地沉到海底。是的,这就是“海鬼”!安妮·莉斯贝昏倒在地上。她不能思想,失去了知觉。

她醒转来的时候,已经是明朗的白天了。有两个人把她扶起来。她并没有躺在教堂的墓地里,而是躺在海滩上。她在沙上挖了一个深洞。她的手指被一个破玻璃杯划开了,流出血来。这杯子底端的脚是安在一个涂了蓝漆的木座子上的。

安妮·莉斯贝病了。良心和迷信纠缠在一起,她也分辨不清,结果她相信她现在只有半个灵魂,另外半个灵魂则被她的孩子带到海里去了。她将永远也不能飞上天国,接受慈悲,除非她能够收回深藏在水底的另一半灵魂。

安妮·莉斯贝回到家里去,她已经不再是原来的那个样子了。她的思想像一团乱麻一样。她只能抽出一根线索来,那就是她得把这个“海鬼”运到教堂的墓地里去,为他挖一个坟墓——这样她才能招回她整个的灵魂。

有许多晚上她不在家里。人们老是看见她在海滩上等待那个“海鬼”。这样的日子她挨过了一整年。于是有一天晚上她又不见了,人们再也找不到她。第二天大家找了一整天,也没有结果。

黄昏的时候,牧师到教堂里来敲晚钟。这时他看见安妮·莉斯贝跪在祭坛的脚下。她从大清早起就在这儿,她已经没有一点气力了,但是她的眼睛仍然射出光彩,脸上仍然现出红光。太阳的最后的晚霞照着她,射在摊开在祭坛上的《圣经》的银扣子上④。《圣经》摊开的地方显露出先知约珥的几句话:“你们要撕裂心肠,不撕裂衣服,归向上帝⑤!”

“这完全是碰巧,”人们说,“有许多事情就是偶然发生的。”

安妮·莉斯贝的脸上,在太阳光中,露出一种和平和安静的表情。她说她感到非常愉快。她现在重新获得了灵魂。昨天晚上那个“海鬼”——她的儿子——是和她在一道。这幽灵对她说:

“你只为我挖好了半个坟墓,但是在整整一年中你却在你的心中为我砌好了一个完整的坟墓。这是一个妈妈能埋葬她的孩子的最好的地方。”

于是他把她失去了的那半个灵魂还给她,同时把她领到这个教堂里来。

“现在我是在上帝的屋子里,”她说,“在这个屋子里我们全都感到快乐!”

太阳落下去的时候,安妮·莉斯贝的灵魂就升到另一个境界里去了。当人们在人世间作过一番斗争以后,来到这个境界是不会感到痛苦的;而安妮·莉斯贝是作过一番斗争的。

①菊苣(Cichoric)是一种植物,它的根可以当咖啡代用品。

②安徒生写到这里,大概是想到了他同时代的丹麦诗人蒂勒(J.M.Thirle)的两句诗:

如果贝得尔·奥克斯的青蛙晚上在沼泽地里叫,

第二天的太阳会很明朗,对着玫瑰花微笑。

③圣烛节(Kyndelmisse)是在2月2日,即圣母马利亚产后40天带着耶稣往耶路撒冷去祈祷的纪念日。又称“圣母行洁净礼日”、“献主节”等。

④古时的《圣经》像一个小匣子,不念时可以用扣子扣上。

⑤见《圣经·旧约全书·约珥书》第二章第十三节。最后“归向上帝”这句话应该是“归向耶和华你们的神”,和安徒生在这里引用的略有不同。

英文版:Anne Lisbeth

ANNE LISBETH was a beautiful young woman, with a red and white complexion, glittering white teeth, and clear soft eyes; and her footstep was light in the dance, but her mind was lighter still. She had a little child, not at all pretty; so he was put out to be nursed by a laborer’s wife, and his mother went to the count’s castle. She sat in splendid rooms, richly decorated with silk and velvet; not a breath of air was allowed to blow upon her, and no one was allowed to speak to her harshly, for she was nurse to the count’s child. He was fair and delicate as a prince, and beautiful as an angel; and how she loved this child! Her own boy was provided for by being at the laborer’s where the mouth watered more frequently than the pot boiled, and where in general no one was at home to take care of the child. Then he would cry, but what nobody knows nobody cares for; so he would cry till he was tired, and then fall asleep; and while we are asleep we can feel neither hunger nor thirst. Ah, yes; sleep is a capital invention.

As years went on, Anne Lisbeth’s child grew apace like weeds, although they said his growth had been stunted. He had become quite a member of the family in which he dwelt; they received money to keep him, so that his mother got rid of him altogether. She had become quite a lady; she had a comfortable home of her own in the town; and out of doors, when she went for a walk, she wore a bonnet; but she never walked out to see the laborer: that was too far from the town, and, indeed, she had nothing to go for, the boy now belonged to these laboring people. He had food, and he could also do something towards earning his living; he took care of Mary’s red cow, for he knew how to tend cattle and make himself useful.

The great dog by the yard gate of a nobleman’s mansion sits proudly on the top of his kennel when the sun shines, and barks at every one that passes; but if it rains, he creeps into his house, and there he is warm and dry. Anne Lisbeth’s boy also sat in the sunshine on the top of the fence, cutting out a little toy. If it was spring-time, he knew of three strawberry-plants in blossom, which would certainly bear fruit. This was his most hopeful thought, though it often came to nothing. And he had to sit out in the rain in the worst weather, and get wet to the skin, and let the cold wind dry the clothes on his back afterwards. If he went near the farmyard belonging to the count, he was pushed and knocked about, for the men and the maids said he was so horrible ugly; but he was used to all this, for nobody loved him. This was how the world treated Anne Lisbeth’s boy, and how could it be otherwise. It was his fate to be beloved by no one. Hitherto he had been a land crab; the land at last cast him adrift. He went to sea in a wretched vessel, and sat at the helm, while the skipper sat over the grog-can. He was dirty and ugly, half-frozen and half-starved; he always looked as if he never had enough to eat, which was really the case.

Late in the autumn, when the weather was rough, windy, and wet, and the cold penetrated through the thickest clothing, especially at sea, a wretched boat went out to sea with only two men on board, or, more correctly, a man and a half, for it was the skipper and his boy. There had only been a kind of twilight all day, and it soon grew quite dark, and so bitterly cold, that the skipper took a dram to warm him. The bottle was old, and the glass too. It was perfect in the upper part, but the foot was broken off, and it had therefore been fixed upon a little carved block of wood, painted blue. A dram is a great comfort, and two are better still, thought the skipper, while the boy sat at the helm, which he held fast in his hard seamed hands. He was ugly, and his hair was matted, and he looked crippled and stunted; they called him the field-laborer’s boy, though in the church register he was entered as Anne Lisbeth’s son. The wind cut through the rigging, and the boat cut through the sea. The sails, filled by the wind, swelled out and carried them along in wild career. It was wet and rough above and below, and might still be worse. Hold! what is that? What has struck the boat? Was it a waterspout, or a heavy sea rolling suddenly upon them?

“Heaven help us!” cried the boy at the helm, as the boat heeled over and lay on its beam ends. It had struck on a rock, which rose from the depths of the sea, and sank at once, like an old shoe in a puddle. “It sank at once with mouse and man,” as the saying is. There might have been mice on board, but only one man and a half, the skipper and the laborer’s boy. No one saw it but the skimming sea-gulls and the fishes beneath the water; and even they did not see it properly, for they darted back with terror as the boat filled with water and sank. There it lay, scarcely a fathom below the surface, and those two were provided for, buried, and forgotten. The glass with the foot of blue wood was the only thing that did not sink, for the wood floated and the glass drifted away to be cast upon the shore and broken; where and when, is indeed of no consequence. It had served its purpose, and it had been loved, which Anne Lisbeth’s boy had not been. But in heaven no soul will be able to say, “Never loved.”

Anne Lisbeth had now lived in the town many years; she was called “Madame,” and felt dignified in consequence; she remembered the old, noble days, in which she had driven in the carriage, and had associated with countess and baroness. Her beautiful, noble child had been a dear angel, and possessed the kindest heart; he had loved her so much, and she had loved him in return; they had kissed and loved each other, and the boy had been her joy, her second life. Now he was fourteen years of age, tall, handsome, and clever. She had not seen him since she carried him in her arms; neither had she been for years to the count’s palace; it was quite a journey thither from the town.

“I must make one effort to go,” said Anne Lisbeth, “to see my darling, the count’s sweet child, and press him to my heart. Certainly he must long to see me, too, the young count; no doubt he thinks of me and loves me, as in those days when he would fling his angel-arms round my neck, and lisp ’Anne Liz.’ It was music to my ears. Yes, I must make an effort to see him again.” She drove across the country in a grazier’s cart, and then got out, and continued her journey on foot, and thus reached the count’s castle. It was as great and magnificent as it had always been, and the garden looked the same as ever; all the servants were strangers to her, not one of them knew Anne Lisbeth, nor of what consequence she had once been there; but she felt sure the countess would soon let them know it, and her darling boy, too: how she longed to see him!

Now that Anne Lisbeth was at her journey’s end, she was kept waiting a long time; and for those who wait, time passes slowly. But before the great people went in to dinner, she was called in and spoken to very graciously. She was to go in again after dinner, and then she would see her sweet boy once more. How tall, and slender, and thin he had grown; but the eyes and the sweet angel mouth were still beautiful. He looked at her, but he did not speak, he certainly did not know who she was. He turned round and was going away, but she seized his hand and pressed it to her lips.

“Well, well,” he said; and with that he walked out of the room. He who filled her every thought! he whom she loved best, and who was her whole earthly pride!

Anne Lisbeth went forth from the castle into the public road, feeling mournful and sad; he whom she had nursed day and night, and even now carried about in her dreams, had been cold and strange, and had not a word or thought respecting her. A great black raven darted down in front of her on the high road, and croaked dismally.

“Ah,” said she, “what bird of ill omen art thou?” Presently she passed the laborer’s hut; his wife stood at the door, and the two women spoke to each other.

“You look well,” said the woman; “you’re fat and plump; you are well off.”

“Oh yes,” answered Anne Lisbeth.

“The boat went down with them,” continued the woman; “Hans the skipper and the boy were both drowned; so there’s an end of them. I always thought the boy would be able to help me with a few dollars. He’ll never cost you anything more, Anne Lisbeth.”

“So they were drowned,” repeated Anne Lisbeth; but she said no more, and the subject was dropped. She felt very low-spirited, because her count-child had shown no inclination to speak to her who loved him so well, and who had travelled so far to see him. The journey had cost money too, and she had derived no great pleasure from it. Still she said not a word of all this; she could not relieve her heart by telling the laborer’s wife, lest the latter should think she did not enjoy her former position at the castle. Then the raven flew over her, screaming again as he flew.

“The black wretch!” said Anne Lisbeth, “he will end by frightening me today.” She had brought coffee and chicory with her, for she thought it would be a charity to the poor woman to give them to her to boil a cup of coffee, and then she would take a cup herself.

The woman prepared the coffee, and in the meantime Anne Lisbeth seated her in a chair and fell asleep. Then she dreamed of something which she had never dreamed before; singularly enough she dreamed of her own child, who had wept and hungered in the laborer’s hut, and had been knocked about in heat and in cold, and who was now lying in the depths of the sea, in a spot only known by God. She fancied she was still sitting in the hut, where the woman was busy preparing the coffee, for she could smell the coffee-berries roasting. But suddenly it seemed to her that there stood on the threshold a beautiful young form, as beautiful as the count’s child, and this apparition said to her, “The world is passing away; hold fast to me, for you are my mother after all; you have an angel in heaven, hold me fast;” and the child-angel stretched out his hand and seized her. Then there was a terrible crash, as of a world crumbling to pieces, and the angel-child was rising from the earth, and holding her by the sleeve so tightly that she felt herself lifted from the ground; but, on the other hand, something heavy hung to her feet and dragged her down, and it seemed as if hundreds of women were clinging to her, and crying, “If thou art to be saved, we must be saved too. Hold fast, hold fast.” And then they all hung on her, but there were too many; and as they clung the sleeve was torn, and Anne Lisbeth fell down in horror, and awoke. Indeed she was on the point of falling over in reality with the chair on which she sat; but she was so startled and alarmed that she could not remember what she had dreamed, only that it was something very dreadful.

They drank their coffee and had a chat together, and then Anne Lisbeth went away towards the little town where she was to meet the carrier, who was to drive her back to her own home. But when she came to him she found that he would not be ready to start till the evening of the next day. Then she began to think of the expense, and what the distance would be to walk. She remembered that the route by the sea-shore was two miles shorter than by the high road; and as the weather was clear, and there would be moonlight, she determined to make her way on foot, and to start at once, that she might reach home the next day.

The sun had set, and the evening bells sounded through the air from the tower of the village church, but to her it was not the bells, but the cry of the frogs in the marshes. Then they ceased, and all around became still; not a bird could be heard, they were all at rest, even the owl had not left her hiding place; deep silence reigned on the margin of the wood by the sea-shore. As Anne Lisbeth walked on she could hear her own footsteps in the sands; even the waves of the sea were at rest, and all in the deep waters had sunk into silence. There was quiet among the dead and the living in the deep sea. Anne Lisbeth walked on, thinking of nothing at all, as people say, or rather her thoughts wandered, but not away from her, for thought is never absent from us, it only slumbers. Many thoughts that have lain dormant are roused at the proper time, and begin to stir in the mind and the heart, and seem even to come upon us from above. It is written, that a good deed bears a blessing for its fruit; and it is also written, that the wages of sin is death. Much has been said and much written which we pass over or know nothing of. A light arises within us, and then forgotten things make themselves remembered; and thus it was with Anne Lisbeth. The germ of every vice and every virtue lies in our heart, in yours and in mine; they lie like little grains of seed, till a ray of sunshine, or the touch of an evil hand, or you turn the corner to the right or to the left, and the decision is made. The little seed is stirred, it swells and shoots up, and pours its sap into your blood, directing your course either for good or evil. Troublesome thoughts often exist in the mind, fermenting there, which are not realized by us while the senses are as it were slumbering; but still they are there. Anne Lisbeth walked on thus with her senses half asleep, but the thoughts were fermenting within her.

From one Shrove Tuesday to another, much may occur to weigh down the heart; it is the reckoning of a whole year; much may be forgotten, sins against heaven in word and thought, sins against our neighbor, and against our own conscience. We are scarcely aware of their existence; and Anne Lisbeth did not think of any of her errors. She had committed no crime against the law of the land; she was an honorable person, in a good position—that she knew.

She continued her walk along by the margin of the sea. What was it she saw lying there? An old hat; a man’s hat. Now when might that have been washed overboard? She drew nearer, she stopped to look at the hat; “Ha! what was lying yonder?” She shuddered; yet it was nothing save a heap of grass and tangled seaweed flung across a long stone, but it looked like a corpse. Only tangled grass, and yet she was frightened at it. As she turned to walk away, much came into her mind that she had heard in her childhood: old superstitions of spectres by the sea-shore; of the ghosts of drowned but unburied people, whose corpses had been washed up on the desolate beach. The body, she knew, could do no harm to any one, but the spirit could pursue the lonely wanderer, attach itself to him, and demand to be carried to the churchyard, that it might rest in consecrated ground. “Hold fast! hold fast!” the spectre would cry; and as Anne Lisbeth murmured these words to herself, the whole of her dream was suddenly recalled to her memory, when the mother had clung to her, and uttered these words, when, amid the crashing of worlds, her sleeve had been torn, and she had slipped from the grasp of her child, who wanted to hold her up in that terrible hour. Her child, her own child, which she had never loved, lay now buried in the sea, and might rise up, like a spectre, from the waters, and cry, “Hold fast; carry me to consecrated ground!”

As these thoughts passed through her mind, fear gave speed to her feet, so that she walked faster and faster. Fear came upon her as if a cold, clammy hand had been laid upon her heart, so that she almost fainted. As she looked across the sea, all there grew darker; a heavy mist came rolling onwards, and clung to bush and tree, distorting them into fantastic shapes. She turned and glanced at the moon, which had risen behind her. It looked like a pale, rayless surface, and a deadly weight seemed to hang upon her limbs. “Hold,” thought she; and then she turned round a second time to look at the moon. A white face appeared quite close to her, with a mist, hanging like a garment from its shoulders. “Stop! carry me to consecrated earth,” sounded in her ears, in strange, hollow tones. The sound did not come from frogs or ravens; she saw no sign of such creatures. “A grave! dig me a grave!” was repeated quite loud. Yes, it was indeed the spectre of her child. The child that lay beneath the ocean, and whose spirit could have no rest until it was carried to the churchyard, and until a grave had been dug for it in consecrated ground. She would go there at once, and there she would dig. She turned in the direction of the church, and the weight on her heart seemed to grow lighter, and even to vanish altogether; but when she turned to go home by the shortest way, it returned. “Stop! stop!” and the words came quite clear, though they were like the croak of a frog, or the wail of a bird. “A grave! dig me a grave!”

The mist was cold and damp, her hands and face were moist and clammy with horror, a heavy weight again seized her and clung to her, her mind became clear for thoughts that had never before been there.

In these northern regions, a beech-wood often buds in a single night and appears in the morning sunlight in its full glory of youthful green. So, in a single instant, can the consciousness of the sin that has been committed in thoughts, words, and actions of our past life, be unfolded to us. When once the conscience is awakened, it springs up in the heart spontaneously, and God awakens the conscience when we least expect it. Then we can find no excuse for ourselves; the deed is there and bears witness against us. The thoughts seem to become words, and to sound far out into the world. We are horrified at the thought of what we have carried within us, and at the consciousness that we have not overcome the evil which has its origin in thoughtlessness and pride. The heart conceals within itself the vices as well as the virtues, and they grow in the shallowest ground. Anne Lisbeth now experienced in thought what we have clothed in words. She was overpowered by them, and sank down and crept along for some distance on the ground. “A grave! dig me a grave!” sounded again in her ears, and she would have gladly buried herself, if in the grave she could have found forgetfulness of her actions.

It was the first hour of her awakening, full of anguish and horror. Superstition made her alternately shudder with cold or burn with the heat of fever. Many things, of which she had feared even to speak, came into her mind. Silently, as the cloud-shadows in the moonshine, a spectral apparition flitted by her; she had heard of it before. Close by her galloped four snorting steeds, with fire flashing from their eyes and nostrils. They dragged a burning coach, and within it sat the wicked lord of the manor, who had ruled there a hundred years before. The legend says that every night, at twelve o’clock, he drove into his castleyard and out again. He was not as pale as dead men are, but black as a coal. He nodded, and pointed to Anne Lisbeth, crying out, “Hold fast! hold fast! and then you may ride again in a nobleman’s carriage, and forget your child.”

She gathered herself up, and hastened to the churchyard; but black crosses and black ravens danced before her eyes, and she could not distinguish one from the other. The ravens croaked as the raven had done which she saw in the daytime, but now she understood what they said. “I am the raven-mother; I am the raven-mother,” each raven croaked, and Anne Lisbeth felt that the name also applied to her; and she fancied she should be transformed into a black bird, and have to cry as they cried, if she did not dig the grave. And she threw herself upon the earth, and with her hands dug a grave in the hard ground, so that the blood ran from her fingers. “A grave! dig me a grave!” still sounded in her ears; she was fearful that the cock might crow, and the first red streak appear in the east, before she had finished her work; and then she would be lost. And the cock crowed, and the day dawned in the east, and the grave was only half dug. An icy hand passed over her head and face, and down towards her heart. “Only half a grave,” a voice wailed, and fled away. Yes, it fled away over the sea; it was the ocean spectre; and, exhausted and overpowered, Anne Lisbeth sunk to the ground, and her senses left her.

It was a bright day when she came to herself, and two men were raising her up; but she was not lying in the churchyard, but on the sea-shore, where she had dug a deep hole in the sand, and cut her hand with a piece of broken glass, whose sharp stern was stuck in a little block of painted wood. Anne Lisbeth was in a fever. Conscience had roused the memories of superstitions, and had so acted upon her mind, that she fancied she had only half a soul, and that her child had taken the other half down into the sea. Never would she be able to cling to the mercy of Heaven till she had recovered this other half which was now held fast in the deep water.

Anne Lisbeth returned to her home, but she was no longer the woman she had been. Her thoughts were like a confused, tangled skein; only one thread, only one thought was clear to her, namely that she must carry the spectre of the sea-shore to the churchyard, and dig a grave for him there; that by so doing she might win back her soul. Many a night she was missed from her home, and was always found on the sea-shore waiting for the spectre.

In this way a whole year passed; and then one night she vanished again, and was not to be found. The whole of the next day was spent in a useless search after her.

Towards evening, when the clerk entered the church to toll the vesper bell, he saw by the altar Anne Lisbeth, who had spent the whole day there. Her powers of body were almost exhausted, but her eyes flashed brightly, and on her cheeks was a rosy flush. The last rays of the setting sun shone upon her, and gleamed over the altar upon the shining clasps of the Bible, which lay open at the words of the prophet Joel, “Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord.”

“That was just a chance,” people said; but do things happen by chance? In the face of Anne Lisbeth, lighted up by the evening sun, could be seen peace and rest. She said she was happy now, for she had conquered. The spectre of the shore, her own child, had come to her the night before, and had said to her, “Thou hast dug me only half a grave: but thou hast now, for a year and a day, buried me altogether in thy heart, and it is there a mother can best hide her child!” And then he gave her back her lost soul, and brought her into the church. “Now I am in the house of God,” she said, “and in that house we are happy.”

When the sun set, Anne Lisbeth’s soul had risen to that region where there is no more pain; and Anne Lisbeth’s troubles were at an end.

文章来源:安徒生童话

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